Keeping Up With The Joneses
By Gary "Melon" Tuttle.
Overwatch League beings some time in Q3 of this year, and while we wait for more news I would like to take a look at the landscape of Overwatch as it stands today.
Overwatch is in a weird space while the Overwatch League takes its time dripping out news and getting started, many tournament organizers say with the way things are now, it just isn’t financially sound to invest in running a tourney or series. Four teams, including majorly known quantities such as Digitas and Team Solomid, have dropped out of competitive Overwatch, with tentative plans to rejoin should the OW League be successful and cheap enough to buy their way into. Hopefully the rumors of multimillion dollar buy-ins turns out to be just that. With multiple groups leaving a growing scene, things don’t look dour, but less bright for the future, and with less than stellar communication from Blizzard, they’ll stay that way for the time being.
On Top of The World
While the suits are getting themselves together, the teams are duking it out and making names for themselves. Whether it be from streaming, competing or a combination of both, the Overwatch community are building their stars they want to see shine on the big stage. Teams such as Envyus have their hitscan superhero ‘Taimou’, NRG have one of the biggest Overwatch streamers in ‘Seagull’, and Korean powerhouse team Lunatic-Hai have the most dedicated fans in the game. These teams are holding a good amount of weight in the scene and doing their best to keep the game relevant in a competitive sense while there isn’t much money to be made from competing unless you are placing or winning in tournaments.
While the scene may still be in its infancy compared to longstanding games such as Counter-Strike, or monoliths like League of Legends, Overwatch still has its teams fighting for their place at the top. At the time of writing OGN is hosting the third season of their APEX series, with groups of four competing in a round robin for a spot in the playoffs. Some of the teams include past champions, such as the aforementioned Envyus and Lunatic-Hai, to strong contenders like Rogue and Kongdoo Panthera. Each of these teams could be claiming the spot as number one team in the world, with Lunatic-Hai currently holding the spot.
You also have teams that have made a mighty push in the last few months such as Immortals with their DPS duo of ‘GrimReality’ and ‘Agilities’, and LG Evil with a Genji you have to see to believe in ‘Jake’. Selfless have been making moves and trying to break globally for a while now and it remains to be seen whether their famous composition will take them to the top where they want to be.
On The Horizon
It has been an interesting year, to say the least for competitive Overwatch and while this article may not assuade any fears for the future, I at least wanted to take a step back and see where the game has been looking for the past year. While there hasn’t been many LAN events for us to keep our eyes out for, Blizzard has finally decided to give us a taste of what OW League could be with the Contenders series.
Starting June 3rd, Blizzard will be hosting tournaments in North America and Europe in an attempt to find players and teams that could be playing in the OW League in the future, while also drumming up excitement for Overwatch League. After separating the jokers from the rest of the deck, there will be an 8 team playoff in each region. The series will conclude in July with the strongest teams from each region taking home the lion’s share of $50,000 dollars. Strong teams like Cloud 9 and and oddly named Yikes! will be participating to test themselves against the juggernauts of Envyus and Rogue to get to the playoffs and perhaps the grand finals. Think of contenders as the development league of OW League, hopefully with less forty year old men than the NBA D-league.
In Blizzard We Trust
With Contenders, we have our first look at what the future could hold for Overwatch, and if the tournament is successful the scene could grow. Overwatch League could be the end all for the game in a competitive sense, whether that is a good thing or bad thing for the game remains to be seen. With proper handling, it could take the game into the heights reserved only for League of Legends and DOTA 2, showing the way for bringing Esports into the mainstream conscience in a new way.
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